Month: August 2015

Giving a New Meaning to the Phrase “Open House”

This week, on the very same day that hundreds of incoming students descended upon Lamont for the Freshman Open House, five members of the Harvard/Radcliffe Class of 1955 ventured to the Poetry Room (after meeting with President Drew Faust) to formally donate a chapbook of poems they’d created to the WPR collection. What might have been a brief meet-and-greet evolved into a deeply compelling and memorable hour of sharing and mutual learning. For one of the chapbook contributors, Jean Hardy Little (Radcliffe, ’55), the day marked the first time she had ever entered Lamont Library, which women were largely prohibited from entering until 1967. Harvard Medical School senior lecturer Robert Blacklow (AB ’55, MD ’59), a fellow contributor to the chapbook, recounted how male undergraduates would prop the Lamont door open with a chair and bring female students the books they needed. The women would  “straddle the threshold, with one foot in the library, and one foot out,” and read the texts that they could not otherwise get a hold of. As Little and Blacklow shared their experiences and joined …

REEL WRITING No. 5: Nabokov’s Ear

I now pass to my own stuff. And in order to soften the transition—a gap of a hundred years, after all—I shall start with a poem about a Russian visiting speaker. He’s supposed to be talking about Russian language and literature to a group of… This is Vladimir Nabokov, speaking to a gathered audience at Harvard University in 1952, when he came to record a few of his own poems along with translations of Tyutchev, Pushkin, and other Russian poets. You can be sure that, throughout each recording, every word was meticulously prepared. Nabokov was famous for writing down everything he planned to say beforehand. In the heavily edited book of Nabokov’s interviews, Strong Opinions, he writes: “I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child… I have never delivered to my audience one scrap of information not prepared in typescript beforehand and not held under my eyes on the bright-lit lectern.” …all hangs together—shape and sound, heather and honey, vessel and content. Not only rainbows—every line …